Thursday, August 31, 2023

A different kind of convention (for me anyway)

Earlier this month, my wife and I went to our first ever science fiction convention: ArmadilloCon here in the Austin area. 

My wife did confess that at first she thought I had talked her into attending a game convention, and wasn't sure about going. However, once we got there and she realized that it was more of a book fans' event than a comicon or wargames show, she got into it.

While the con did have open gaming (which we did not take advantage of)--and a dealer room and an art room, both of which sucked away some of our money--the main attraction was all the authors who participated in readings, discussion, panels and book signings.

My favorite panel was the first one we attended, "Spotlight on Southwest-Themed Sci Fi and Fantasy," which had four Texas authors talking about (mainly) the Lone Star State and its influence on speculative fiction. 

I enjoyed that all the panel members were from or currently living in parts of the state where I had resided at one time or another. I also got a kick out of the fact that two of them were originally from my old stomping ground in West Texas, and their discussions about that region took me back there. They also name-checked several Texas writers, including Robert E. Howard and Elizabeth Moon.

Other panels were just as interesting (like the one on "What have Texas Infrastructure Failures Taught Us About the Coming Apocalypse?") and had may authors from around Austin as well as other parts of the state. We also heard from local horror author Gabino Iglesias, and went home with a couple of his books as well as his autograph.

The highlight for us was special guest Cory Doctorow reading an exceprt from one of his upcoming books, The Lost Cause. His writing captivated my spouse and I, and his take on the future, which can be described as "hopepunk" is one I enjoy.

So that was our first science fiction convention. I think we'll be going again next year.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Back and there again: Battle of Five Armies with Oathmark

Some time ago, I discussed gaming the Battle of Five Armies using Hordes of the Things. I want to return to that theorizing, but since my friends and I have been playing Oathmark for the past year or so, let's talk about using that ruleset to recreate the scenario from the book version of The Hobbit.

For convenience, we'll go with a figure scale of 1:20, meaning one miniature represents around one score of participants in the battle. Single figures represent certain leaders or other characters along with their bodyguards/companions/retinue.

Dwarf King (Thorin & Company)
Dwarf Prince (Dáin Ironfoot) with 9 Dwarf Linebreakers
15 Dwarf Soldiers

Men of Laketown
Human Captain (Bard) with 9 Human Soldiers

Elf King (Thranduil) with 19 Elf Warriors
20 Elf Spearmen
10 Elf Archers

Human Spellcaster 5 (Gandalf)
Indrik (Beorn)
5 Gargoyles (Giant Eagles)
5 Gargoyles (Giant Eagles)

Orc King (Bolg) with 4 Orc Warriors (huge goblin bodyguards)
20 Goblin Soldiers
20 Goblin Soldiers
20 Goblin Soldiers
20 Goblin Archers
10 Goblin Wolf Riders
10 Goblin Wolf Rider Scouts
10 Wolves
5 Gargoyles (giant bats)


Use hills to make a L shape, with each leg about 36" long with the apex to the north. Put some rough ground about 8" across in between the two legs of the L (about 15" from the apex) to represent the ruins of Dale. Place the elves and Gandalf on the left (western) leg of the L. Thorin and co. are at the apex, behind a defensive fortification. The rest of the dwarves are on the right (eastern) leg closest to the middle, and the men of Laketown on the outer end of that hill. All units are facing inward, and the ground behind them is considered impassable except as noted below. Beorn and the Eagles are not placed at this time.

Goblins deploy in the valley within 12" of the south edge of the map and at least 12" away from any elevation.

Special Rules

To represent the vast hordes beseiging the Lonely Mountain, any Goblin unit (except Bolg and his bodyguards) that is destroyed may attempt to come back the following turn. If the destroyed unit activates, it uses one action and may take one action after placement. Units may not be placed within 3" of an enemy unit. Roll to determine location:  

1        no placement this turn
2-4      south edge of map
5        left half of western hill
6        right half of western hill
7        left third of eastern hill
8        middle third of eastern hill
9        right third of eastern hill
10       player's choice

Beginning on turn 5, any unit of Giant Eagles may be placed on the western edge of the map with a successful activation roll and may then take two actions.

Beginning on turn 7, Beorn may be placed on the western edge of the map south of the hill with a successful activation roll and may then take two actions.


The game lasts until either all characters on one side are destroyed or until the Goblins move at least two non-flying units into the fortification where Thorin is initially located.


I think that pretty much covers everything except Gandalf's spells. I don't see him using fireball, so I wonder what magic I should give him for this battle. Any suggestions?

Monday, July 31, 2023

Solo wargaming

After watching a number of videos discussing this book on the Joy of Wargaming Youtube channel, I decided to pick up The Solo Wargaming Guide by William Sylvester.

While I'm fortunate to have a regular gaming group, I found some of this publication's ideas about creating solo campaigns intriguing. Although the book mainly focuses on historical wargaming, he has some suggestions for more modern and fantasy settings as well.

And the ideas around the solo campaign (create a map, dice for each side's plans, and see where they end up) can also help create scenarios that aren't your usual matching points, line 'em up on opposide sides of the table and have at it.

In addition to the traditional historicals or imagin-nations, this book will prove useful for campaigns of Oathmark, Ogre, and even Full Thrust.

Has anyone else read this book?

Friday, June 30, 2023

Mounted Bretonnian Sorceress

One of my painting accomplishments last year was this Mounted Bretonnian Sorceress from fifth edition Warhammer Fantasy.
I haven't played that game; however, she worked great as a mounted human spellcaster for my first Oathmark army.
I enjoyed painting up the Lady Monique de Ville, and I used her in many Oathmark battles, where her Sieze the Initiative spell helped my kingdom triumph against their foes.
I accquired this figure a few years back secondhand, from a vendor at MillenniumCon. 
I could have kept her in the blister pack as a collectible or for resale, but where's the fun in that?
She belongs on the tabletop, as do all the miniatures I've bought over the years--and these days, some of them are actually seeing action!
I know it's not perfect close-up, but on the tabletop against my oponents, this casting looks great!

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Dice tower/terrain piece

After about two years of watching Youtube crafting videos, I decided to try my hand at making a structure from scratch. I constructed this dice tower from a breadcrumbs can and dollar-store foam board. 
I cut off the top and bottom, then cut three slits at 45° angles to bounce the dice and cut an opening at the bottom. The wood planks surrounding that doorway are just craft (popsicle) sticks. For the stones, I used scissors to cut dollar-store foam board into irregularly sized and shapes stone blocks. Then I took those foam pieces and shook them in a can with real rocks to add texture. 
After gluing on all the foam bricks, I painted it with Black Magic Craft's suggested mix of black paint and Mod Podge to strengthen the build and to protect the foam from the solvents in spray paints. I then sprayed it with a matte black. 
I painted the stonework with overbrushes and then drybrushes of successively ligher shades of gray. Once that was done, I gave the whole thing a black wash, and then I picked out a few stones to hit with some shades I had--green, blue, and brown.
Details included some flocking mixed with white glue to simulate moss, and some store-bought trees and tufts and a treasure chest mini to close off the dice corral. Then an overall spray of matte varnish, and it was done!
The dice corral is a little small, making it difficult to remove more than three dice, but it does its job and I am happy how it turned out.
As you can probably tell, a certain videogame was a major influence for this build.  I plan to use it with Oathmark and other fantasy wargames, but this isn't my last piece of terrain.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Ogre at MillCon

As usual, I ran my Monopolis setup for Ogre at last November's MillenniumCon. This time, however, I had fewer players. Maybe it was the nonstandard time slot.
Anyway, still lots of Ogre-on-Ogre carnage, and I think I even got to roll a few dice myself thanks to the sparse player count.
I enjoy running it, but I'm thinking about doing a differnet sci-fi tank game at the next convention. More on that later.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Scenes from a game of Oathmark

Our group started playing Oathmark last month year, an miniatures-agnostic rank-and-flank fantasy wargame from the creator of Frostgrave.

It's been a chance for me to put together an Oldhammer-style lizardmen army with a bunch of vintage citadel figures, as well as newer castings from Reaper.

My opponents have drafted historical, Lord of the Rings, and the official Oathmark minis to fill out their ranks.
Our matches down at the local game store always draw attention from passersby, and the game itself is fun and easy to learn and play.
Anyone else taken up the Oathmark banner?